Warm weather has returned to Tampa with a vengeance. Many of us are turning on our AC systems again, which might have gotten a break during our short winter, and asking them to work at full capacity. If you recently noticed that your Tampa electric bill doubled (or tripled!), your air conditioner is likely to blame. Most AC systems aren’t built with efficiency in mind, which means that they require a lot of energy to turn on and off throughout the day. Even if you have a high-efficiency system, you might not be giving it the maintenance it needs. Read on to learn more about how to lower your next TECO bill before summer hits! And if you’d like to move forward with scheduling a consultation, you can book an appointment with the World’s Smartest Technicians below. We’d be happy to come out and diagnose any issues you’re having with your AC system!
Why Is My Electric Bill So High?
There are typically three reasons behind extremely high electric bills, if they are associated with your air conditioner.
1) You have an inefficient AC system.
Most air conditioners installed today are single-stage systems. This means that they only operate at two levels– powered on and powered off. When they are on, they are providing the same amount of cooling to your home, no matter what the temperature outside is. This amount of cooling is based on the size of the system, which was determined (hopefully) through a heat-load calculation performed by your Tampa AC company. We’ll talk more about heat-load calculations in the next section. But here’s the real drain to your electric bill– your AC system requires the same amount of energy to turn on and off each time, regardless of how quickly your system cools to your desired temperature. If it’s really hot outside and your home is set to be at 73, your AC system will stay on longer to reach that temperature than if it was already 73 outside. However, even if your AC system is only on for a couple of minutes, it will still utilize that high start-up energy. This can cost you hundreds during the hot summer months.
2) Your AC system was not sized and/or installed correctly.
We’ve talked a lot about the importance of expert AC installation, but we’ll say it again– if your system wasn’t installed correctly, it could be the reason behind your electric bill increase, regardless of the AC system’s efficiency rating. Air conditioners are frequently installed quickly by bigger companies, especially when they have multiple installs scheduled for one day. These installers might not have extensive training, or they might just be overwhelmed with work and trying to move quickly. Either way, a lack of attention to detail can be detrimental to your system health down the road.
We also know many companies who don’t perform heat-load calculations, mostly because they’re time-intensive. These calculations determine the correct sized air conditioner for your home, based on square footage, window size, age of the home, and much more. However, if a heat-load calculation is not performed, that company is basing your AC system installation on a guess, likely derived from the size of your current system or a much simpler calculation (based solely on square footage). But what if that system was installed based on guesswork, too? This can lead to thousands of dollars down the drain, when you consider the lifespan of your air conditioner, all because of laziness. Read more here.
3) Your AC system is not receiving regular maintenance.
We see this frequently with customers who just installed new systems but are not seeing energy savings. If you aren’t receiving biannual maintenance, your system will not perform efficiently, regardless of its SEER rating. This is also true if you are not regularly changing your air filters.
Maintenance not only keeps your Tampa AC system running efficiently, but it also prevents your system from breakdowns. We can’t begin to tell you how many systems we service that stop cooling because of a clogged drain line. This is a costly service call that can be completely prevented with regular AC maintenance.
How To Score Energy Bill Savings
Now that you know why your electric bill went up, you can start working on fixing it before summer arrives! You have three options.
1) Replace your AC system.
Replacing your AC system is your best bet, especially if your system is over 10 years old. Older systems become less effective over time, mostly from wear-and-tear and lack of maintenance. In addition, most older AC systems are not considered “high-efficiency systems,” especially when compared to systems installed today. For example, most systems we install are 16SEER and up, which gives you a boost over older systems. However, we tend to recommend inverter AC systems (18+SEER) for most customers concerned with high energy bills. These systems don’t waste power turning on and off because they stay on throughout the day. They are also able to change size, which affects how much cooling they provide in any given moment. This allows an inverter to operate efficiently and effectively, regardless of the temperature outside or your desired temperature inside. Read more about inverters here!
2) Repair or modify your current AC system.
If your air conditioning system wasn’t installed correctly the first time, call another Tampa AC company to fix those issues once and for all. There are a lot of modifications that can be done after the fact to remedy a sloppy installation. This is your best option if you recently spent money on a new AC system and are still seeing high energy bills.
If there are no problems with your air conditioning system installation, you might need to make changes to your ductwork or your thermostat. Ductwork is associated with your airflow, which can drastically impact the performance of your air conditioning system. You probably aren’t paying to have a cold attic, but if your ducts are leaking, that’s where your cool air is frequently ending up.
Lastly, installing a WiFi thermostat with geofencing technology can improve the performance of your air conditioning system, no matter what type of system you have. Geofencing enables your thermostat to detect when you’re almost home and when you’ve left (based on your phone’s location), which then modifies your temperature. Now you won’t pay to keep your home cool when you’re not around!
3) Invest in regular maintenance.
Even if you have a new system, new ductwork, and a new thermostat, you’re still not entirely off the hook. You must keep up your system with regular maintenance if you want it to last and perform efficiently. Think about it this way– you wouldn’t buy a car and neglect to give it regular oil changes and new tires. Though your new AC system might not be as flashy as a new car, it is a costly investment in your home that is meant to last for many years. And just like a car, an AC system requires regular maintenance in order for it to perform well and avoid breakdowns.
If you’re not on a maintenance schedule, click here to learn about our annual maintenance programs and why you should enroll today!